Monday, September 08, 2008

academic beefs and playing apples to apples

It's always interesting to me to take classes in other departments and learn about the entrenched disciplinary debates and divides. Obviously, law has its originalism wars and the whole Hart/Fuller and Hart/Dworkin debates, but I wonder if anyone has made a claim so bold as "everything else takes a toolkit approach; it is time to take the autonomy of ____ theory seriously." I mean, that's like saying "everyone else is thinks the world is flat; it is time to consider my idea that the world is round." Kind of a dangerous game to posit only two categories in an academic debate, declare that only one is right, and argue that obviously the other is wrong. As my prof said today, it's like playing Apples to Apples among six or seven players, trying to color the judge's choice by suggesting that only two of the choices sound reasonable, one of them being your own, in order to increase your probability of winning. When done in an academic debate that would otherwise include multiple perspectives to ellide the differences of the others into one camp to which your theory of everything is opposed quite rightly, it sounds sort of like a cheap shot. You know, like cheating at Apples to Apples.